Review of Last House Burning by Katy Scot

We, who are not so young, grey age is knocking to whose doors-sometimes wish to look back to our younger days, our youth-our boundless, free days. But the picture seems too hazy, wrinkled- signs of age crumbling through it, that it even seems too hard to recognize it. We wish we can have a time machine. But who will give us that amount of energy, to propel our mind rocket to the speed of light? No, not sir Stefan Hawkins-but books that speak of our childhood, our youth, our happiest days when we didn’t even recognize the words like-stress, depression, tension blah ,blah ,blah….. These books are peeping windows to peep into our golden youth. But can a fantasy novel be categorized in that classic works-fantasy that speaks of a distant land, so alien from ours. I was reading Last house burning by Katy Scot and at the same time thinking how easily she has done that hard task.
The story unfolds in good old Australia, where Ben, our ‘would be adult’ (he is seventeen now) protagonist are on his way to Carmenton, a sleepy town near Sydney with his parents and his little sister Tia in a family holiday. They drove their way through a ‘ghost town’, a ruin what was once a town, devastated by a fire nearly a century ago. The narrative of the deserted town is sure to create a shiver down your spine, from where the mystery of the story slowly but steadily starts to have a grip on your senses. And what the young woman is doing there? In derbies, within the ghostly town…who is she and what she was doing in a completely intact house among the houses long been ruined.
The language of the writer is lucid and crispy. A description of the long unused kitchen, in author’s own words ‘After changing his clothes and brushing his teeth, Ben went to the kitchen. His mother’s cleaning marathon had made every surface shine, but the green benches had an aged yellow tinge and some of the brown and orange chequered tiles on the walls had large cracks in them. It looked like Uncle Arthur had built the kitchen in the early 1970s and hadn’t them. Touched it since.’
The fridge and freezer were empty, but the pantry held a lifetime’s supply of baked Bean tins, some vinegar and vegetable oil, and six new-looking plastic containers full of various white and beige powders.’ The eye for details of the author is immaculate. She writes in a way that reminds us of Mark Twain, his style of humor, creating laughter with details.
When you are going to read Ben’s encounter with uncle Thomas or his chit chat with his friends you may have mistaken that you are reading a modern version of Mark Twain, the inimitable way of humor, the narration, the sense of satire –all present, only with a modem settings as if Tom Sawyer is listening to his favorite music from the I pod and at the same time goggling in his laptop.
Curiosity started to whip our young central character in such a way that he started working like a skilled detective, finding clue after clue, running post to pillar to find who that sad young woman was ,what she was doing among debris and why she seems so depressed. Mystery mounts when he looks for the consequence of that fire when he looks at the website of the history society of the town. What he discovered? Has that anything to do with the young lady? Suspense soars as the mercury thread of thermometer in an Australian summer day-until he discovers the truth about verola-the young lady in the debris.
The story takes an unexpected turn when Ben discovers why she is always morose and why she lives like a captive within the boundaries of the intact ’mansion’. With a twist to the tale, enters Jamie in our story, a character who gives his hearts out to help Verola to be natural again. I know you are wondering will he and Ben will be successful?
If you want to know it you just can’t help yourself but read this fantasy with a punch of thrill and suspense, with an urban setting. What makes this fantasy is even more unique is the concept of hell and heaven, you’ll be thrilled to know that your next door neighbor mayn’t be a mere mortal after all. There may be some unique way the god controls this office, may be there is a corporate in place to penalize the sinner. Sounds enthralling?
Well it must be.
The plot idea is fascinating, the story line develops spontaneously and she speaks in the language of young adult and the way of storytelling is terrific. In author’s own words-‘ From his position behind the piano, Jamie could see the local mayor with his arms around two of the showgirls who had just been dancing on the stage. The mayor was one of the most vocal supporters of the alcohol ban, yet on the table in front of him sat a glass of something that was definitely not iced tea. And there was the wife of the city planner, her thick makeup doing nothing to obscure her age, holding onto the lapels of a young man’.
Waiting eagerly for next work of Katy Scot to hit the deck.
I shall give her out of 5
In storytelling-5
In plot idea-4.6
In developing the story-4.5
In narration-4.8
A must read for avid buffs of fantasy and suspense and thrill.


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